Enable browsers to optimize the display

Did you ever see an advertisement in a newspaper using only the half width of a page? Or did you ever see the same advertisement in different newspapers in the same size with a surrounding frame to compensate the different sizes of the newspapers? No? We, too! The advertisements are always exactly designed for the newspapers' size.

Does anybody know the designer who has first designed a web page for a fixed screen size of 800 x 600 pixels? Why do so many designers copy this limitation? We don't know the reason.

My notebook has a screen resolution of 1400 x 1050 pixels and I have paid a lot of money for it. If I visit a web site "optimized" for 800 x 600 pixels, it looks like a flip-bock. What a waste of money and screen resolution.

Poor Handheld PC and Psion PDA owners! Their devices have a screen width of 640 pixels. They must horizontally scroll the web pages in their browsers to see a whole page. This should always be avoided.

Even if a screen has a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels, a web browser doesn't need to run in an application window of the same size. The browser can run in any smaller application window without keeping the aspect ratio that also results in horizontal scrolling. Even if the most web designers of these web sites assume the maximum application window size, they need to consider the width and height of the browsers' menu bars, scroll bars, and other borders around the real page display window, so that these web sites are actually designed for about 700 x 500 pixels.

Nielsen recommends to enable the users' browsers to optimally display web pages for each individual user's circumstances. The browser exactly knows the size of the application window, of the menu bars, of the scroll bars, borders, and so on. If a web page is designed resolution independent, then a browser can adapt it to almost all screen and window sizes.

A resolution independent design can be achieved with among other things relative width sizes in tables, paragraphs, and other block-oriented elements using percentages.

Copyright © 2001-2003 by Rainer Hillebrand and Thomas Wierlemann